State v. Grega

In State v. Grega (1998) 168 Vt. 363 721 A.2d 445, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that multiple searches of a residence occurring over several days fell within the scope of the defendant's consent. On September 13, the defendant gave the police written consent to search his home as part of an investigation into the murder of his wife. Later that day, the defendant left the state. The officers searched the residence on September 13, and then returned to conduct additional searches during the following two days. The defendant did "not contest that the initial search on September 13 was permissible," but argued that "the subsequent ... searches on September 14 and 15 exceeded the scope of his consent." (Id. at p. 452.) The court ruled that the police did not exceed the scope of consent by conducting searches "on two subsequent days": "Defendant left Vermont the same day he signed the consent form, without revoking his consent. He did not indicate, by word or action, that his consent expired at the end of that day, or was in some other way restricted. ... We note that the searches were close together in time, and part of a continuous criminal investigation into the victim's death. On these facts, the police entry and search of the condominium on three consecutive days was within the scope of defendant's consent." (Grega, supra, 721 A.2d at p. 453.) The court further noted that the "defendant was neither arrested nor charged at the time of the contested searches. The fact that he may have been under suspicion, standing alone, did not change defendant's status enough to undercut his consent." (Ibid.)